Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 27 March 2021

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Campaigning to create a Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community

David Ford Church Times Dare to think boldly about funding ministry
“Stop the competition for scarce resources: stipendiary posts should be allocated according to need”

Richard Peers ViaMedia.News It’s A Sin: The Myth of Homogeneity

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Patronage Legacy of Jonathan Fletcher

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Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
20 days ago

REF: Richard Peers ViaMedia.News It’s A Sin

“What can we learn from this? Nothing simple” ~ Richard Peers

REF: Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Patronage Legacy of Jonathan Fletcher

“…has given itself permission to do as it pleases. No one has stood up to it. The group is now out of control because the rest of the Church has simply allowed this to happen” – Lizzie Taylor 

Last edited 20 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
19 days ago

There certainly needs to be a more equitable distribution of clergy as David Ford argues, but I think that those with deep pockets and sharp elbows will always secure the resources. In my former diocese two large towns with around the same size of population had very different deployments of clergy. Harpenden in Hertfordshire had four full time incumbent status clerics and Biggleswade in Bedfordshire just the one. A friend of mine in the Ely diocese always used to marvel that God was calling lots of clergy to work in the city of Cambridge but evidently not to a ministry… Read more »

John Wallace
John Wallace
19 days ago

Dean, God also calls them to work in Surrey and South London and generally within the M25 – not many get called up North. Perhaps we should emulate the RCs and just send priests – a bit more difficult with partnered priests – but not unsurmountable. Not ordained, when I finished my degree at Cambridge, and my PGCE at Southampton, I took a teaching post in Corby – little Scotland- and certainly not the place for a Cambridge graduate!! I actually worshipped at the Baptist Church to start with as it was more liberal than anywhere else. Over time, things… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
19 days ago
Reply to  John Wallace

The Holy Spirit clearly knows what it’s doing in calling clergy to the southeast. Any fule kno that the nearer you are to the great metrollops the worse your spiritual health will be as a result of rays of sin thence emanating, and the more in need of spiritual direction you are. Those in and from the north are blessed with a purity of spirit that is directly proportional to distance from the M25, and are thus well able to maintain practically perfect spiritual wellbeing with fewer clergy or even none, I was born in Carlisle, 299 miles from Euston.

Last edited 18 days ago by Stanley Monkhouse
Nick Haigh
Nick Haigh
18 days ago

Well said, Stanley. As a Northumbrian by birth, I regard myself as doing missionary work down here in my Sussex parishes. Obviously!

peter
peter
18 days ago
Reply to  John Wallace

as someone who gives generously to my parish, I want more focus on increasing the number of confirmation candidates. not short sighted at all.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
18 days ago
Reply to  peter

The confirmation services in my youth were huge affairs to which the whole congregation would attend. Lately with no fewer candidates they were often rather moribund and you struggled to even get the candidates immediate family there.

Michael
Michael
18 days ago

Father Dean – I also remember confirmation services which were well supported by the congregation. I was confirmed in the Church in Wales 40 years ago, the church was packed. Hardly any confirmations now take place in Wales because it has become an optional rite of passage. Access to communion is available from the age of weaning in Wales. With reference to church attendance, Giles Fraser has written an excellent piece in the Daily Telegraph today about Zoom communion. He notes a particular recent phenomenon – that the numbers attending public worship at his church has grown. People want to… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
15 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Michael, I loved your line about baptismal rites on Zoom or Facebook; it neatly summarises the emptiness of digital sacraments. I had to take my mother to a church in a village 10 miles away on Palm Sunday for the sacrament, as there was nothing available more locally. The congregation were welcoming and the service was conducted with dignity and reverence. We were in the front pew and the first to communicate; as we stood up to leave our box pew my mother noisily broke wind and then confirmed to the congregation that it was her by announcing “I’ve just… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
15 days ago

See the attached graph for why we won’t be following this congregation’s example at St. Margaret’s, Edmonton, Alberta.

167665554_10159807080665400_4397987806289292171_n.jpg
Last edited 15 days ago by Tim Chesterton
Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
14 days ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

Given that Covid is here to stay Tim how do you see the future for worship in Canada? I cannot envisage an hermetically sealed life. Vaccination with annual booster jabs to deal with variants seems to be the best we can hope for, certainly for the foreseeable future. In affluent countries such as the UK or Canada many of us can choose to self isolate, but what about our neighbours in the world who are dirt poor, and live cheek by jowl with others also living a hand to mouth existence? How do these people worship in this new world?

Tim Chesterton
13 days ago

Thanks, Dean. In Alberta (I have to speak of our province, not our country, as health care is a provincial responsibility in Canada) we are way behind the UK in vaccinations. I think that by the Fall we will be in a much better situation. But opening up right now would be extremely dangerous. Our province is following a 4-step reopening approach, but the new variants have really thrown a spanner in the works. We are currently stalled at Step 2. When the Province moves to Step 3, that’s when I see St. Margaret’s opening up (you can find details… Read more »

John Wallace
John Wallace
18 days ago
Reply to  peter

We were a growing church – but our worshippers didn’t want to identify with the C of E, probably as many of them had a scottish heritage! I now give generously but want to make faithful disciples – confirmation is an add-on! I have seen so many confirmed – and don’t see them again after a couple of months.

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
18 days ago
Reply to  peter

Why? And what are you going to do about this other than give financially?

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
18 days ago
Reply to  John Wallace

Its’s easy to sneer at clergy gravitating to posts in the south east. It is highly regrettable that certain areas of the country and / or within regions find it easier to attract interest in posts than others, and it should be remedied, but there has to be more to this than clerical snobbery or people looking for an easy life. Consider: 1:The south east and London in particular have been until very recently areas of high inward migration- basically, within England the general population movement has been south and east. It’s not just clergy. 2: Partly following from this,… Read more »

Last edited 18 days ago by Fr Andrew
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
18 days ago
Reply to  Fr Andrew

Naturally. As Jesus said, ‘Go into all the world which is familiar and where you have support networks, and preach the gospel. And lo, I am with you always.’

John Wallace
John Wallace
18 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Well put, Janet! And what was the bit about ‘ leaving all behind’?

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
18 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

When a cheeky journalist poked fun at the Camerons about their privileged upbringing, the normally quiet Samantha said that she was from Scunthorpe. Normanby Hall is geographically close to Scunny but a world away in most other respects. Wisbech or March are not too far from the bright lights of Cambridge but also a world away for career focussed clergy.

american piskie
american piskie
18 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

I think that’s a cheap shot, Janet. Banging a verse of scripture on the table solves nothing. Anyway, who are meant to “listen” to these words today? – just the ordained clergy? – I hope not, and yet that’s the class it’s being applied to. More importantly, context: how are we to “listen” to these words today? – how does one “go into all the world and preach the gospel” in the age of the internet?

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
17 days ago

Jesus said repeatedly that his followers were to put him before family, parents, riches, or anything else including life itself. Of course that doesn’t apply merely to the ordained, or merely to lay missionaries, but the conversation was about so many clergy being ‘called’ to the comfortable Home Counties rather than the provinces. I might also have quoted Jesus telling the young to leave his father and follow him – ‘let the dead bury their own dead.’ The internet can do a lot, and during the pandemic streamed services have reached many people who can’t or won’t enter a church.… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
17 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Janet, yes ministry is sacrificial, and yes, as american piskie says, that is a cheap shot, as was John Wallace’s. The point I would stress again is that clergy are human and if stressed enough they will break and then they can’t go anywhere and preach anything, which is a bit of an own goal for the church and advances the gospel none. Clergy are not exempt from the simple rules of human psychology, physiology etc. Although it is not the be all and end all I don’t think it’s wrong to show proper regard for support networks- by which… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
17 days ago
Reply to  Fr Andrew

You know you’ve touched a nerve when some of your most deeply held (and lived) convictions are dismissed as a ‘cheap shot’.

Stanley Monkhouse
17 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

My experience as a member of a vocations team was that many enquirers and ordinands were confident they what they could bring to the Lord was exactly what the Lord needed without their having to change. The notion that the Lord might lead them to places they didn’t wish to go was not welcome. It struck me as odd, even unChristlike, that some BAP candidates were “marked down” for not having a clear view of the future but instead said things like “I’ll wait for the Lord’s direction”. Support networks can be stifling and friendships with parishioners divisive. I’m with… Read more »

Michael
Michael
16 days ago

In the diocese where I live, there is a strong trend for newly minted curates to stay in the family home and to commute to the benefice where they really ought to be living. This sometimes means living in another deanery. I can see the argument for not uprooting eg children from school but I find it a bit odd. The most extreme example of being rather soft on ordinands, was of a young woman who didn’t want her family to know that she was ordained. The diocese complied with her request for total anonymity so she wasn’t listed in… Read more »

Charles Read
15 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Did not her training institution spot this candidate’s issues?

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
15 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

As someone from a working class background and state educated it seemed to me ironic that I should end up in two roles in Surrey and then the third in rural Bedfordshire. I never made a secret of being gay and no one seemed to mind at all. My support networks were there, at the end of a phone, on my days off and when I had annual leave. I don’t think I’d have been any more or less happy if I’d been in a big city with a large gay scene. The commercial gay scene can be very lonely,… Read more »

Tristan
Tristan
17 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Utter stuff and nonsense, Janet. I know enough depressed, lonely and aging clergy across the country – with no support networks – to make sure that I will not consider leaving my present area. Or perhaps you think that my partner will have no qualms at all about leaving their friends, family, and career to up sticks with me? In what century are you living?

M Evans
M Evans
16 days ago
Reply to  Tristan

That’s both unnecessarily rude, and childishly simplistic, Tristan. I moved four times with my clergy spouse (and then children) in 14 years, to a new place where I knew no-one and had to start over. And all in the 21st century! When I was ordained and suggested (after several years) my spouse might like to reciprocate to allow me to grow my ministry there was considerable resistance, but that was about his self-importance in who should be ‘leading’ the family, not about leaving friends behind. You can build new networks, you can go to new places and still be with… Read more »

Kate
Kate
18 days ago
Reply to  Fr Andrew

I think your point about the advantage of people having a local support network is well made.   There are plenty of options though. For instance, the church could say that people have to earn a minimum number of points before they can be considered for a deanery or bishopric – easy parishes could earn less points per month than demanding ones. Growing attendance could earn additional points. In addition to encouraging people to take some less popular posts, it would take some of the subjectivity out of promotions. And yes, there could be points for theological publication and other… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
17 days ago
Reply to  Kate

I can just imagine what blessed St. Francis of Assisi would have said about clergy ‘collecting points’ for preferment! (must be Evangelical).

David Rowett
David Rowett
18 days ago
Reply to  Fr Andrew

Is it also worth observing that career opportunities for spouses are likely to be better in the SE?

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
17 days ago
Reply to  David Rowett

David Rowett – or just to observe that spouses have vocations and careers too. They are just as called and they too are seeking to follow Jesus.

Paul Frost
Paul Frost
16 days ago
Reply to  John Wallace

God still calls people to Corby – have been here nine years and absolutely love the place (along with square sausage and Irn Bru…). Having seen the light, I don’t think I could now ever minister in the affluent suburbs.

David Rowett
David Rowett
18 days ago

When a former colleague in the diocese, newly arrived from the South, pondered at a Rural Deans’ meeting on why more clergy didn’t avail themselves of the opportunity to sit in the congregation and enjoy Morning Prayer on a Sunday, the person chairing the meeting observed that perhaps it had something to do with the Holy Spirit calling so many more people to minister in the Thames Valley rather than in the provinces….

Tim Chesterton
17 days ago

Perhaps a perspective from overseas might be helpful. I’ve lived on both sides of this debate. My wife and I were married in late 1979. In those days I was a Church Army evangelist, and we went where we were sent, and a week after our marriage, I was sent a thousand miles west, to Saskatchewan. After five years there, we were sent to the Diocese of the Arctic, where I served two different parishes over a seven year period. In the second, Ulukhaktok, I was the third most northerly Anglican minister in the world. When we left the Arctic… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
16 days ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

An extraordinary story of faith ministry Tim. Very challenging. Thank you.

Susannah Clark
15 days ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

I just want to say thanks for such a well-balanced reflection, Tim.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
15 days ago

++David Hope used to tear his hair out at the sound of ordinands wanting to serve in the leafy suburbs of Guildford and the M25 belt. ‘Go where you’re bloody well called’ was his mantra!!

John Wallace
John Wallace
14 days ago
Reply to  Anthony Archer

Thank you Tim – and blessings on your continuing ministry and thank you Anthony for the reality and earthiness of ++David Hope.

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